Ateneo takes down La Salle in the first battle between the rivals, NU snaps losing streak against UP

NU Bulldogs 77 – UP Fighting Maroons 70

The NU Bulldogs snapped a three-game losing streak with their comeback win over the UP Fighting Maroons. In the process the Bulldogs handed the Fighting Maroons a three-game losing streak of their own.

UP looked ready to snap their losing streak in the first half. They came out with energy and attacked the Bulldogs head on. The Fighting Maroons were forcing turnovers and running at every chance. On offense, they drove into the paint and found the open players in the wings for outside jumpers. UP took a five point lead heading into the half. They were still holding on to a lead in the third quarter when Jun Manzo went down with an injury. NU took advantage of UP’s offense in disarray and went on a 9-3 run to take the lead.

In the fourth quarter, Jay Alejandro and Matt Salem took over. The two senior Bulldogs combined for 14 of the team’s 21 points in the final period to help NU pull away. Alejandro hit a tough floater to break a tie and give NU the lead in the final minute of the game. Salem hit a dagger three-pointer from the right corner to seal the win for NU. Salem led the Bulldogs with 21 points and five treys while Alejandro had 12 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

ADMU Blue Eagles 76 – DLSU Green Archers 75

The Ateneo Blue Eagles escaped the La Salle Green Archers in a thrilling game between the two rivals. With the win, Ateneo remains undefeated and sweeps the first round of eliminations.

The Blue Eagles came out strong and showed everyone why they were leading the league this season. They found holes in the La Salle defense and exploited them to find open shots. Ateneo was on fire early in the game as they hit six three-pointers in the first quarter that helped build a 12-point lead.

Ben Mbala came out more aggressive in the second quarter. With his outside shot failing him, Mbala focused on scoring inside. Ricci Rivera followed suit and was attacking the Ateneo defense with strong drives and athletic finishes. La Salle closed the third quarter on a 14-4 run to cut the lead down to just one point.

The fourth quarter was a nip and tuck affair as the Blue Eagles tried to stave off the Green Archers who were breathing down their necks. La Salle finally took the lead when Ben Mbala hit two free throws with a little over a minute left in the game. Thirdy Ravena tried to get the lead back but his drive was foiled. DLSU set up on the side line for an inbound play to try an seal the win.

Kib Montalbo lobbed the ball towards Andrei Caracut but Nieto got a hand on the ball and tipped it towards the Ateneo side of the court. Caracut tried to save the ball to Montalbo but it instead went to Nieto who was then fouled driving into the lane. Nieto cooly sank two free throws to give Ateneo the lead back, 76-75. The Blue Eagles succeeded in stopping Mbala in the following possession to hold on to the win.

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